A South African union leading the country's widespread automotive strike claims the industry is losing up to R12.5m (US$1.7m) per day as a result of its actions.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) - which says it has 31,000 members - has downed tools surrounding its demands for a 15% wage rise and a series of employee benefit improvements.

"Production has collapsed and it [industry] is losing R12.5m a day as a result of our strike," NUMSA national spokesman Castro Ngobese told just-auto from Johannesburg.

The union and auto industry body AMEO - Automobile Manufacturers Employers Organisation - are scheduled to meet later this afternoon in Pretoria although Ngobese said NUMSA would only be represented at shop steward level.

"Our leaders are extremely busy to be wasting time to meet the employers," he said. "They have got more important work to do than listening to the employers. It is our ordinary shop stewards who will be there."

AMEO chairman Chris Thexton confirmed to just-auto from Pretoria talks would take place later in the South African capital but insisted there would be "senior union officials there" in a bid to halt the walk-out that has seen the majority of of employees stop work.

"In terms of employee participation, the strike is the same as yesterday," he said.

"Three-quarters of the workforce is supporting the strike - NUMSA has called an indefinite series of strikes."

AMEO represents the seven major manufacturers in South Africa: BMW, Nissan, Ford, Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen.